VESTA on Hiatus 

Parade of Homes steps into its place.

In the midst of an uncertain housing market, the Memphis Area Home Builders Association has decided not to hold its biannual Vesta Home Show this fall.

The showcase, held for more than 20 years, has wowed visitors with state-of-the-art homes in posh neighborhoods. Last spring, the show's seven homes — priced between $500,000 and $650,000 — were sold before the event officially began. It was the first pre-show sell-out in Vesta's history.

But the builder's association recently decided that instead of doing Vesta, it would host a 2007 Mid-South Parade of Homes.

"The Vesta show was a success — everything sold — but it was only a success for those builders involved," says MAHBA executive director Don Glays. "To be honest, there were not a lot of developers coming to the table saying I'm willing to risk the advertising and marketing budget."

And with a weak housing market, the association wanted to give all of its member builders a boost.

"We're going through a market correction that is probably a little more severe than it has been in the past," Glays says. "We decided to carry on by doing a Parade of Homes that would interest all markets, not just the upscale market."

Glays, who became director in May, has spent 25 years in the home-building industry. He says the association was considering doing a Parade-type event before he was hired. In fact, he was even asked about it during the interview process.

The Parade of Homes, which will be held in conjunction with the North Mississippi Home Builders Association, will run from October 12th to 28th and will feature 161 homes in 40 communities throughout the tri-state area. Seventy builders are involved and have built houses that range from $125,000 to $1.25 million.

Vesta may introduce buyers to top-of-the-line homes, but Glays thinks it offers an inaccessible product for most consumers. He hopes that a showcase aimed at drawing potential homebuyers into the market will work better than one that leaves them dreaming.

"When people go to Vesta, most say this is really nice, but it's not mine. I'll never have this," Glays says. "With Parade of Homes, you can visit homes and say this is what I really want and I can afford this."

MAHBA plans to hold another Parade of Homes in the spring and then return with the Vesta concept in fall 2008.

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